No to China edition

Wesleyan won’t open a joint campus, plus readers on advocating for international ed

Passing on a Chinese Campus

Wesleyan University is taking a pass on opening a campus in China. The liberal-arts college had been approached by potential partners who were especially interested in its film program, but on the heels of a trip to China, Wesleyan’s president Michael Roth announced the plan was a no-go. The reason? Disagreements over the role of the liberal arts.

In a campus email, Roth wrote:

“In considering this possible campus in China, we needed to be sure that the academic work would be in line with the distinctive pragmatic liberal education at the core of Wesleyan’s mission. Further conversations with those who proposed the partnership have made it clear that our respective goals could not be sufficiently aligned – not to mention the questions we had around issues of academic freedom and the implications for our home campus.”

The joint venture – which had been proposed in partnership with a Chinese company and Shanghai Theatre Academy, a public university – had been viewed critically on campus: Students had held a rally decrying the plan, and the student government had passed a resolution calling for more transparency in negotiations.

Online, the consensus seemed to be that university administrators had made the right choice:

Some expressed their reaction in all caps…

...while others praised Roth for appearing to make a decision based on how well the program did – or didn’t – fit with the college’s liberal-arts mission:

As the Wesleyan president notes in his blog, most potential high-level international partnerships never advance past preliminary conversations. (Claremont Colleges-Singapore anyone?) So perhaps it is unsurprising that Wesleyan’s work never got beyond the getting-to-know-you stage. 

Still, when Wesleyan announced its decision the other day, I couldn’t help but feel it was inevitable. Given the blowback to the NBA’s handling of China and the controversy around a canceled program on dissent at Yale-NUS, is now the right moment for a new liberal-arts outpost in an authoritarian country? And will it ever be?

To share your thoughts, drop me a note. I’m at

Parents’ Part in College Search

Parents and students aren’t always on the same page when it comes to studying overseas. Surveys of prospective students and their parents by IDP Connect, a global student recruitment firm, found that parents are more concerned about safety, while students prioritze the ability to gain work experience after graduation. Both groups, however, care about affordability.

Still, decisionmaking about going abroad remains a family affair for many: Students reported that parents took the lead in choosing which country they should study, but more than three-quarters said they were the primary decider when it came to selecting an institution and a major. 

The important role that parents play in college choice in many parts of the world is not news to many who work in international admissions. So, tell me: What does your college do to reach whole families, not just students, in the recruitment process?

Words of Encouragement

Last week I told you about some of the requests I’ve received from students and early-career educators dismayed by the current environment for global engagement and wanting to do more. How can I make a difference, they asked. 

Naturally, I threw the question to you. Here are some of the replies I’ve gotten from readers over the last week:

I also received a long and comprehensive note from Erica Stewart, NAFSA’s new director of advocacy. In it, she urged students to write to their members of Congress and to encourage their colleges to join the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign. “For those who want to take it one step further,” she added, “young people with an interest in international education policy and how Congress works are encouraged to email us at to explore if there may be an opportunity for them to offer a testimonial in support of international students and scholars or to engage their Congressional delegation in person on this issue. They do not need to be of voting age to have a voice.😊”

Thanks to Erica and to everyone who reached out with suggestions. If you have more ideas for making an impact, let me know. I’m at and on Twitter @karinfischer.

Around the Globe

The U.S. has fallen to 28th among major industrialized countries in government funding for university research as a share of GDP, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Just 3 percent of graduate students at American universities study, conduct research, or do other academic activity overseas. The Institute of International Education found that business students are the most likely to study abroad.

After she spoke out in support of the Hong Kong protests, an Emerson College student asked administrators to make a statement condemning the threats against her. None was issued.

Listen to this NPR story on how the travel ban disrupted the world’s premier conference on brain science.

The leaders of research universities pledged to work against academic espionage but reiterated that higher ed’s “openness and inclusivity is itself our greatest strength.” 

Three-quarters of international students in Australia used recruitment agents.

The Chinese government issued new guidelines meant to improve the quality of college graduates.

A dozen professors in South Korea listed children or other underage relatives as co-authors on academic papers.

Campus activists criticized Harvard’s student newspaper for seeking comment from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in response to a student protest. Meanwhile, Penn canceled a controversial speech by a former director of the agency.

At Duke, demonstrators shouted down former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

For-profit education provider Adtalem Global Education – formerly DeVry – is selling off its Brazilian portfolio.

A German university commission found evidence of “extensive and severe scientific misconduct” by a researcher who claimed to have developed a blood test to detect breast cancer.

And finally…

They are top students but ineligible for most financial aid. Their parents brought them to the United States as children, and they consider themselves as American as apple pie, no matter what their passport says. No, I’m not talking about Dreamers but about holders of H-4 visas, the children and spouses of people on H-1B work visas.

Strict caps on the number of such workers who can get green cards puts their children in legal limbo – American colleges count them as international students and they can’t legally work here. Yet, they see little future in home countries where they have no recollection of ever having lived. A legislative fix that would provide a pathway for them to stay seems unlikely.

’Til next week – Karin

For the best international education news and analysis, please subscribe to latitude(s). In this startup phase, I’ll be making the newsletter free; in the future, I’ll ask for a small fee to support quality journalism.

Loading more posts…